Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 - Women's Review
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Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 - Women's
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|Pros||Comfortable, durable, breathable, simple||Durable, comfortable, versatile||Soft and supple, durable, breathable, weatherproof||Lightweight, breathable, packable||Durable, breathable, lightweight|
|Cons||Fewer overall features, less versatile||Shorter back length limits use in extreme weather||Less streamlined design and extra large brim restrict mobility||Less protection from wind chill, less durable||Less comfortable, chest pockets hard to use|
|Bottom Line||This is a remarkably weatherproof stretchy hardshell that feels more like a softshell||This a versatile, durable hardshell offers a lot for a reasonable price||A soft, supple, and stretchy 3-layer hardshell ready for rugged mountain conditions||This lightweight hardshell is well suited to milder climates and higher output aerobic activities||A lightweight and durable 3-layer shell for a variety of outdoor adventures|
|Rating Categories||Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0||Patagonia Triolet -...||Mountain Equipment...||Patagonia Storm10 -...||Outdoor Research Mi...|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility and Fit (20%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Features and Design (10%)|
|Specs||Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0||Patagonia Triolet -...||Mountain Equipment...||Patagonia Storm10 -...||Outdoor Research Mi...|
|Measured Weight||12.5 oz||16.4 oz||12.9 oz||8.3 oz||11.9 oz|
|Length of back, from base of neck to bottom||26 in||26 in||28 in||26 in||27 in|
|Material||3L recycled polyester knit face with PU membrane and recycled polyester backer/Proflex||3L 75D 100% recycled polyester Gore-Tex shell with a waterproof/breathable barrier and DWR finish||3 layer DRILITE STRETCH 20D fabric with fluorocarbon free DWR||H2No Performance Standard shell: 3L 20D 100% recycled nylon ripstop face, 7D tricot backer, waterproof/breathable barrier and DWR finish||AscentShell 3L, 100% nylon 20Dx45D mechanical stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 30D woven backer|
|Pockets||1 internal chest, 2 hand||2 external chest, 2 hand, 1 interior mesh bucket||1 internal chest, 2 hand||1 external chest, 2 hand||2 external chest, 2 hand (jacket stuffs into left pocket)|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Harness and Hip Belt Compatible||Yes, high pockets||Yes, high pockets||Yes, high pockets||Yes, high pockets||No|
|Drawcords||3 hood, 2 waist||3 hood, 2 waist||3 hood, 4 waist||1 hood, 1 waist||3 hood, 1 waist|
|Adjustable Cuffs||Yes, Velcro||Yes, Velcro||Yes, Velcro||Yes, Velcro||Yes, Velcro|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Warranty Policy||Guarantee covers the original owner with proof of purchase, for the usable lifetime of the product||Ironclad Guarantee||Fully guaranteed to the original owner against defects in components, materials and workmanship.||Ironclad Guarantee||Infinite Guarantee|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is a highly breathable, stretchy, comfortable, and weatherproof shell that holds up impressively well in heinous mountain weather.
The Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 jacket feels like a softshell jacket with the performance of a hardshell. Indeed, it is the burlier upgrade of one of our favorite softshells of all time from Rab. The Proflex fabric is weatherproof and stretchy, allowing for freedom of movement and protection from the elements. This fabric still tests at 10,000 HH, which is a standard measure of the water pressure required to penetrate the fabric. This rating is problematic, however, because it really doesn't say much about the reality of battling the elements. This is best determined through field testing.
When we got our hands on this coveted jacket, we were both excited and apprehensive–and very doubtful. It feels soft and supple, which is not what we expect a burly hardshell to feel like. We decided to take it out on a big backcountry ski day with one of the worst weather forecasts of the season in the Pacific Northwest–which is saying a lot given the reputation winters have in the Cascades. We were skeptical enough that we packed a backup hardshell. In this corner of the world, it is not uncommon to carry two hardshell jackets when the weather gets rough.
As we rounded our first objective, the storm really started pounding, and we were headed straight into it. The temperatures were rising, and as we descended, the snow became heavier and wetter. We motored on, climbing back up into cooler temps. So far, so good. Several ski laps later and still dry, we finally determined it was time to bail on our traverse and return–it was just too gnarly to get through the two remaining passes. Retracing our steps, the temperatures climbed again, and the precipitation took a turn for the wetter. On our last descent, our garments were covered in wet snow, dripping. Peeling off the shells revealed only the typical leaks around the cuffs and hood from the sideways blowing snow and rain–nothing through the jacket itself. And comparing to the burly hardshell pants also saturated with water confirmed that this soft hardshell jacket could really hang with the best of them.
Mobility and Fit
The Kinetic stunned us with its weather protection, something we were not anticipating from such a soft and supple hardshell jacket. What we certainly were expecting, however, was an excellent range of motion and comfort. The Kinetic delivered as expected in this category. It feels as soft and cozy as a sweatshirt. The cut is fitted enough to reduce bulk and ensure the jacket moves with you wherever you go. The stretch fabric then further ensures you can move in any direction you wish.
The smooth and simple design feels good in motion. The zippers are few, just two hand pockets and an internal chest pocket, which helps to maximize the amount of soft and supple fabric instead of stiff and awkward zippers. Rab also used smaller waterproof zippers, reducing the amount of overall fabric and storm flaps needed — elements that often functionally stiffen a jacket. The jacket's thoughtful design and cut further enhance its mobility; in particular, the asymmetrical cuff puts a little more fabric down the back of your hand to ensure coverage even with your arms overhead, like when swinging your ice tools or grabbing a handhold.
Venting and Breathability
We expected the Kinetic to breathe well, and this proved true in our tests. This is a lightweight shell designed for high-output activities. The same soft fabric that ensures excellent range of motion should also provide excellent breathability. The thickness of the fabric is just right to balance protection from the elements and breathability when generating a lot of body heat. There are no pit zips, but the fabric was sufficiently breathable, and we did not miss them.
There are two fabric types in this jacket. There is a stiffer material in areas of high wear and exposure to the elements—the arms, hood and side panels—and a softer type elsewhere. Presumably, this softer fabric not only moves a little more fluidly but also breathes a bit better. We appreciated that this was extended throughout the chest. Some jackets will have a burlier fabric along the chest as well, but for the female physiology, expelling heat via the chest is crucial. Though there is a thin liner along the chest, it is also light and breathable, and the fabric in this zone helped to shed heat where we produced it most rapidly.
A material's breathability can impact how dry you remain. If your jacket doesn't breathe and you're going hard enough to generate some body heat, you can get sweaty and feel wet from the inside. This is the grand irony of hardshell jackets. Conversely, when a jacket is highly breathable, sometimes body heat pumping through the jacket can help keep the whole situation dry, even if the fabric doesn't get the highest waterproof rating out there. These are the variables that show up in real field testing. With the Kinetic, we were dry at all aerobic speeds and body temperatures, in all kinds of burly weather.
At just over 12 ounces for a size small jacket, the Kinetic is solidly a mid-pack performer in weight. It is a relatively lightweight jacket, but the stretchy fabric is not as lightweight as some more plasticky-feeling shell materials.
The Kinetic has minimal but thoughtful features, which ensures the jacket remains as lightweight as possible. There are not many zippers, which can add significant weight–but there are just enough to provide maximal utility.
Features and Design
One of the first things we noticed in the features of this jacket was how well our phone battery survived on cold days in the chest pocket. We love chest pockets, but often on the coldest days this is a hard place to carry our phones due to the exposure to cold–especially if we are skiing or otherwise at relatively high speeds moving forward, with cold air rushing over the front of the jacket. The chest pocket on the Kinetic is fully internal to the jacket–it is its own full pocket sewn to the inside of the shell fabric of the jacket. No wonder our phone survived better, it has two layers of fabric insulating it from the elements! Very clever and highly functional, we think.
The Kinetic's main zipper is bi-directional, allowing you to unzip it from the bottom. This is super useful for tucking in layers when wearing a backpack or adjusting a harness. It also has two elastic adjustment points at the hem and three in the hood. These are all operational with just one hand and carefully sewn or tucked in out of the elements ensuring they do not get iced up in stormy conditions–another very thoughtful design feature. The hood also has a supple brim that gives it enough structure to help keep precipitation out of your eyes. It is helmet compatible and cinches around the face closely with the elastic running along the inside of the hood.
Should You Buy the Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0?
The Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is an excellent hardshell jacket for vigorous mountain activities. This jacket offers excellent weather protection, indeed better than anticipated, with a svelte and comfortable fit. The stretchy fabric allows a closer fit than stiffer hardshell jackets while still allowing excellent range of motion. This still is not the best choice for a long expedition or conditions where you may be required to hunker down in bad weather for a while, but for fast-and-light missions where challenging weather is guaranteed, we think this jacket is a great companion.
What Other Hardshell Jackets Should You Consider?
The Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is a stellar hardshell for high-output activities. If you're looking for the hardshell to get you to the summit of Denali, however, you will want to consider a more traditional 3 layer jacket with a lean toward weather protection and less of an emphasis on breathability. Check out the Norrona Trollveggen or the even burlier Arc'teryx Alpha SV.
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